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Monastery of St. Gertrude chapel

Sisters of St Gertrude’s Garden {format} 3:30 Barrett Golding

Stewardship of the land deeply rooted in religion.

Broadcast: Feb 1 2003 on NPR Living on EarthSeries: Lewis & Clark Trail: 200 Years Later Subjects: Garden, Environment, Religious, Historical

Lewis & Clark Trail: Sisters of St. Gertrude

February 28, 2003

LAURA KNOY, host: This year marks the two-hundredth anniversary of the Lewis and Clark expeditions.


KNOY: We wondered who lives along the trail now, from the northwest coast to the mouth of the Missouri.


KNOY: Producer Barrett Golding bicycled the entire Lewis and Clark trail and sent us a series of audio postcards, like this one from the Monastery of Saint Gertrude in Idaho, where the Benedictine sisters say caring for the land is part of their faith.


SISTER MARY KAY HENRY: Yes, I'm Sister Mary Kay Henry, here at the Monastery of Saint Gertrude in Cottonwood, Idaho, at the foot of a wonderfully wooded butte here on Camus Prairie, which was originally part of the Nez Perce lands. People can experience the draw of the land. They can look over and see the Seven Devils Mountains, the beginning of the Salmon River breaks, look out across Camus Prairie to the Bitterroot, the Clearwater Mountains.


SISTER MARY KAY HENRY: We're going to go into the chapel here at Saint Gertrude's where the sisters are going to be celebrating the Eucharist.


SISTER CAROL ANNE: Well, I'm Sister Carol Anne and my focal point is the woods, supervising of the harvesting, the logging. It's the basic managing of it.

SISTER JANET: I'm Sister Janet and I use the herbs that we grow to help make tinctures and salves, healing potions.


FEMALE: Well, caring for the earth, I think, is an essential part of who we are. That's our faith. We're part of creation, we're not separate from it. And so it doesn't do any good to help people get born, or help people have money, or whatever you're doing if what we're giving them is a sick planet to live on.


FEMALE: I think nature is the original scripture that tells us about God.

FEMALE: To me it's also about a mirror of God. It reflects God. You look at nature and you see God, too.

FEMALE: Catholic spirituality is very much the awareness of the sacred in the everyday.


FEMALE: The stones that the building is made out of came from the hillside, so it was all quarried from the hill, brought down by horse and wagon, and the sisters helped stack them up. So we talk about, you know, the house we live in comes from the earth, the food we eat comes from the earth, and then our cemetery is up just above the rise there, and then we go back to the earth.


KNOY: Barrett Golding's portraits of the Lewis and Clark Trail 200 years later are part of Hearing Voices, funded by the Corporation for Public Broadcasting. For more audio, images, and interviews from the trail, please visit our website, That's